Monday, December 22, 2003
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Here is the introduction.
Here are some great Strongbad email selections, kid's book, techno, japanese cartoon, guitar, comic
And here is a good halloween cartoon.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
However, there are signs that many within the Democratic camp are very concerned about this. There is a worry that a Dean candidacy could turn into a major disaster for the Democratic party as a whole. Here's a slam at his foreign policy from the DLC. Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, who attained senior member status in the Hate Bush club for his very long, very emotional, and very factually challenged article on why it's all right to hate George Bush, has gone so far as to start an anti-Dean blog. Here's Kaus's take on one particular Dean campaign remark- "A few more flailingly stupid statements like that--...--and the Dean campaign could succeed in frightening even Iowa Democratic caucus-goers. ..."
Of course, there's also the Wesley Clark phenomenon. Wesley Clark was surrounded by former advisors to Bill Clinton as he entered the race, and it has been widely assumed that the Zipper-man was giving his implicit(but not explicit) support to the Clark campaign. Continuing in this vein of conjecture, it was assumed this was for two reasons, 1)Because of concern over the possible Dean Train wreck, and 2)Because Dean might wrest control of the Democratic party away from the Clinton Political machine. Of course, Clinton hasn't outright endorsed Clark. After all, he would look foolish giving his early support to a candidate who failed ignominiously, which is exactly where it seems Clark is headed.
This raises the question, why is Al Gore giving such early support to a candidate who may turn out to be a disaster for the Democratic party? The simple answer is that Al Gore is an idiot, not to mention a bad politician. He has never really succeeded in any great degree in the political arena. He essentially inherited Tennessee from his father, an enormously influential and popular politician there. From there, he failed to secure the Democratic nomination for president. He got a lucky boost when Bill Clinton gave him a ride to the Vice-President's office. He was perfectly positioned to win the presidency, but then he screwed it royally. He disassociated himself from a popular President and a booming economy so he could prove something by relying on his own political skills and charisma(shudder). Here's a tip for all aspiring politicians, if you're the sort of person who will attempt some sort of weird serial-killer stalking routine in the middle of a Presidential debate on national television, rely on other people's charisma whenever possible. If Dr.Dean were a superstitious man, he might regard an Al Gore endorsement as the equivalent of a black cat crossing his path. ... As it knocked over and shattered a mirror.... underneath a ladder.
You can't parody this stuff. It's simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. Peta apparently plans to hand these fliers out to children. Tim Blair and Eye on the Left comment.
Update: This actually reminds me of those satirical propaganda posters done by modern humorist.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Thursday, December 18, 2003
I got there at 3:15 for the 4 o'clock show, and there were already 50 people in line. Yet again, all shows were sold out for the day.
The movie stays truer to the book than the Two Towers, and the battle scenes didn't have the grating cheesiness of much of those in TT. A lot of stuff is cut from the plot, which is necessary, as it is, the movie is over 3 hours long and still feels rushed much of the time. To substitute for the cut plot, they provide shorter solutions that get to pretty much the same end point. It's not perfect, but a seven hour movie wasn't an option so...
The battles were pretty good, one thing that annoyed me were catapult strikes hitting huge stone walls and collapsing them in one hit like a bunch of children's blocks. This bothered me both as unrealistic( yeah, I know, like trolls and magic rings aren't) and as unbalanced. Why bother with battering rams and siege towers if they could have just knocked a big hole in the wall with a couple of catapult hits? There were scenes with Giant elephants that were very reminiscent of the fight against the AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back. That was actually ok.
In general, the characters are simplified and given less depth than in the book. Also, Gandalf is made less wise so that Aragorn can essentially gain some stature at his expense. This is somewhat understandable and pretty much in line with the previous two movies, but in one case, that of Denethor, it was unnecessary and really weakened the movie. Denethor was made into a simpler villainous character just so Jackson could have some more action and drama in a movie that already has plenty. Of course, more arbitrary Arwen(Liv Tyler) and the elves plot stuff was tacked in, which was neither better or worse than I expected.
Early in his career, Peter Jackson made a move called Dead Alive. It is apparently fairly entertaining in addition to being very schlocky. He still has some of this sensibility in him and it shows up particularly in scenes with orcs. He has this way of leering and lingering over the grotesqueness of the orcs that frankly diminishes the seriousness of the story. In this movie, this shows up even more, since he has an undead ghost army to work with. Not just there, but in other suspenseful, 'scary' scenes there is a definite Evil Dead vibe. Anything that makes me think of Army of Darkness doesn't really belong in this movie.
The end of the movie is probably something that will cause a great many people to complain. Essentially, after the day is won, there's about 20 minutes of epilogue. I loved it. It was slow, it was reflective, it gave you a chance to stop and feel this wonderful world Jackson(and Tolkien) has created. This is especially important because the entire preceding movie doesn't give you a chance to catch your breath, endlessly pummeling you with special effects and enormous action set pieces. Events that take hours and days(or should) seem to happen all at once. The epilogue is essentially symmetrical, mirroring the early peaceful scenes in The Fellowship, which I loved as well. It also was more or less faithful to the book, except it doesn't have 'the scouring of the shire', which is fine, I think. The Scouring was fine in the book, but in the movie it would added substantial length, which they couldn't have afforded, and really wasn't necessary for the development of the story, which was over in all important respects at that point.
I suppose if they made a seven hour version of this movie(and the others), I would watch it, along with the other diehards, and love it. However, Jackson is forced to consider commercial aspects, so he has to keep it at a (somewhat)reasonable length.
Compared to the other movies? I liked it far better than Two Towers, and not quite as much as the Fellowship. Why did I like the Fellowship more? Because, first, it had more quiet time. It had a better balance between sensory assaults and reflection. Secondly, because it had a smaller group of characters, it could focus more tightly on those and draw them better. Lastly, because of Sean Bean and Boromir. The actor, I think, provided the best work in the whole trilogy, and I find Boromir to be the deepest and most interesting character, at least as shown in the movies.
Jacob Levy has more thoughts.
To move on to a related subject I've read stories that Peter Jackson wants to make The Hobbit. If this is really true and he really wants to do this, it will happen. After the massive pile of money and critical acclaim he has produced for the studio, he can do anything he wants. Only two major characters show up in both the Lord and the Hobbit, Bilbo and Gandalf. Ian Holm is too old to do a young Bilbo(They actually taped back the skin on the sides of his face to remove the wrinkles in that one flashback scene and I don't see them doing that for a whole movie). That leaves Ian Mckellan, and I'm sure they can offer him enough money to do it.
I've thought about this, and I've decided I'm okay with it. I'm not completely happy with what Jackson has done with the Lord of the Rings, but the Hobbit is actually a much less cohesive work, so he can meddle around quite a bit with it and not do any appreciable harm.
This is the American contestant to the recently completed Miss World contest in China. Here's the winner, Miss Ireland
I actually think Miss America is better looking, but it's hard to say, because the Miss World site is remarkably stingy with photos. There are only two pictures of Miss America provided, and they are both close-up publicity type face shots. There aren't any more natural, realistic type pictures that would be much better for judging how she really looks. Plus no swimsuit pictures. I mean come on!
She can say anything she wants, and everybody just nods and smiles. No accountability.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Saturday Night Live apparently ran a skit that very amusingly parodies the hysterical extremes of Bush-hating.
Unfortunately it is too late for new product placements, however in the extended version DVD of Return of the King, due out just in time for Christmas 2004, there is a scene where Sam and I stop at a Pizza Hut on the way to Mount Doom. The scene is an homage to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction where would be Orc robbers hold up the restaurant and unaware of what it is, try to steal the ring from me.
Posted by: Frodo on December 16, 2003 10:02 AM
I have to say, I have some apprehensions about the movie. Jonah Goldberg writes, "The battles are bigger and better than even the Helm's Deep conflagration of The Two Towers" The problem here is that the Helm's Deep battle sucked. It demonstrated that Peter Jackson didn't know how to stage a large scale battle in a way that was intense and convincing rather than a cheesy Bruckheimerian Action Movie exercise. Aragorn and Gimli pop out the little secret-side door right next to the gate.... and nobody in that giant horde just across the way notices? And then they do the 'dwarf-tossing' routine again, right on top of a bunch of upraised spears that somehow don't impale the tossed dwarf and then.... Everything about that battle reeked of pandering to ADD afflicted 10-year old boys who need some kind of arbitrary crisis created and resolved every five minutes. Braveheart was a movie that knew how to stage a battle. A battle fundamentally is about two large groups of men(or humanoids) slaughtering each other until one side wins. It isn't about one hero or individual pulling out some cute little trick that saves the day in one swoop. Jackson tries to personalize the battles far too much. For example, that one orc, conveniently wearing a nice shiny mail coat, who makes a mad dash to light the explosives. A big deal is made of trying to shoot him before he gets there. Why? Were they hoping the torch would go out and that was the only one the orcs had in the entire army? Then there is the cavalry charge into the leveled spears of the orcs. If you saw Braveheart I shouldn't need to explain the problem there. In case you aren't familiar with the book, none of this is in the book, save for the fact that explosives were used to breach the wall, but without any of the cheesy melodrama of the olympic torch runner.
Whew. Feels good to vent. Hopefully Return of the King will be better.
Also, if you haven't seen the Crichton essays, see them here and here
More from the interview here